SAP CEO Bill McDermott threw down a new gauntlet in front of more than 20,000 people Tuesday, building on his rejection of complexity last year, and promising to show customers how they can also Run Simple.

“We’re no longer in a business-to-business-to consumer market — this is a consumer to business market,” McDermott said during his keynote address to SAPPHIRE NOW at the Orange County Convention Center. “The consumer rules — and it’s fundamentally changing everything.”

This means giving customers what they want, when they want, on the channel they want it. But it also means respecting their time, which they could better spend on more productive work or time with their family.

Where To Now?

“Every business in here today is in a state of transformation,” McDermott said. “Last year, we started down the road to Run Simple; this year, we are going to give you the roadmap.”

Details on the roadmap will wait until Executive Board Member Bernd Leukert’s keynote on Wednesday, but McDermott defined the businesses that run simple. These organizations are both data driven and seamless.

Data driven firms have embraced digital technology. Those that haven’t are on the wrong side of a digital divide, with no hope of crossing another problem: a data divide.

Seamless means enabling customers and employees to smoothly move across digital boundaries. This includes shopping online or using a search engine to solve a problem.

Let Data Do the Driving

Under Armour is an organization that has bridged the data divide, according to McDermott. The Baltimore-based sports apparel company offers data-enabled garments that feed information to users via multiple channels, helping them improve performance, build community or connect with the company.

“That is probably the greatest advantage that SAP has given us … this ability for unencumbered growth,” Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said in a video played during the presentation. “It allows us to get and information in real time, and, just as importantly, anticipate where the ball will be — not where it is.”

The commodity you sell is no longer what’s most important, according to the CEO of Italy’s largest power company. It’s how you handle your data.

“The core change here is how to have data transmitted in the best way,” The Enel Group’s Francesco Starace said in another video played onstage. “Without that, this transformation will not succeed.”

SAP is also putting its money where its digital mouth is.

“The enterprise software giant is devoting the new SAP Digital business unit to this effort, making it safe to assume SAP will focus heavily on the digitally native concept going forward,” ZDNet stated Tuesday. “Continuing the digital theme is the announcement of Digital for Customer Engagement, which SAP calls its first ever purely digital product.”

Seamless Transition

For seamless — the ability to engage customers anywhere — McDermott held up the National Hockey League, especially a conversation that he had with the league’s commissioner. Gary Bettman wants to run a seamless league in which fans can access a century’s worth of data about all of the teams, with equally seamless access to souvenirs from each team.

“Kind of like what we want in business, right?” McDermott asked the crowd. He also touted a single cloud-based HR solution to manage full-time and part-time workers across industries and geographies, as well as payroll and cultural subtleties.

Disney has implemented seamless into its theme park workforce, giving managers insight into who is trained to operate specific rides, McDermott stated. This is helps enhance safety and mitigate risk if an employee calls in sick; managers know immediately who is qualified to replace whom.

“Data-driven businesses must be seamless,” McDermott said. “When you think seamlessly, you can be a champion.”

And I Concur

Few would call expense reporting solutions the software of champions, but Concur Executive Vice President Barry Padgett made a good case when he joined McDermott on stage. He demonstrated his company’s seamlessly integrated travel and expense management solution.

“All of you are going to have an expense report at the end of this week,” Padgett said. “So I know you’re going to love the innovation I’m going to share with you this morning.”

The mobile app works with partner apps to make hotel reservations, earn reward points and itemize hotel bills. It can take care of meals and taxi travel through the vendor’s app. And it can interface with your e-calendar to see which clients or colleagues joined you for dinner.

“The expense report has truly written itself,” Padgett said, concluding the demonstration. “There’s nothing for us to do.”

This kind of respect for employee time can lead to greater productivity at work, as well as more satisfied workers who get more time with loved ones.


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This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.
Photo: Shutterstock